Illinois horse racing industry waiting for cash from casino licenses

August 31, 2011

Maria Altman

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(AP File/M. Spencer Green)
Horses and jockeys make their way from the paddock to the race track at Arlington Park.

Illinois' horse racing industry is still waiting for its share of revenue from the state's 10th casino license. They were promised that money more than a decade ago. Back in 1999 Illinois' horse tracks and horse owners were promised 15 percent of the adjusted gross receipts from the state's 10th casino license. That license was tied up in legal trouble for years.

Finally, a new owner opened the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines in July, yet the portion slated for horse racing remains in the state's Gaming Fund. Brad Hahn, a spokesman with the state's comptroller's office, said that's because the law states the money "shall be paid" rather than "transferred."

And without an appropriation from the General Assembly, the Gaming Board can't send the money.

"The short of it, right now there's no mechanism to move the money from the state Gaming Fund to the Horse Racing Equity Fund," Hahn said.

Hahn said the Gaming Board will ask legislators in the upcoming veto session to either appropriate the money or change the law's language to allow transferring the money.

Right now, there's $2.6 million waiting to be distributed.

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